Donita K. Paul's DragonLight

DragonLight, by Donita K. Paul is the last book in her DragonKeeper series.

Picking up the last book is always hard without reading any of the prior books. So my review should be taken with a grain of salt. However, as one who has enjoyed fantasy fiction all his life, I found DragonLight quite unsatisfying.

Epic Fantasy, Heroic Fantasy (part 1)

What do Lord of the Rings, Anne McAffery's Pern series, Conan the Barbarian, have (in my opinion) that DragonLight doesn't. In my opinion, DragonLight didn't have an epic/heroic feel.

-Grand Ambiance
Though there were great stakes and an evil cult that were threatening to wreak havoc in the land, the chapter by chapter telling of the story was what I would describe as anti-epic. Too much focus on hiccuping dragons, picking dress styles to wear to the ball, and a whiny wife (Kale). The first 70 pages were unbearable. As the plot begins to solidify, and the stakes rise, these type of petty details fade slightly, but not nearly enough.
A fantasy story needs a heroine the opposite of Kale. Heroes and heroine don't whine and giggle, nit-pick and manipulate there husbands, they are supposed to be supermen and superwomen. Sure they need to have a flaw, but the flaw should not be an annoying personality. It was this focus on the cute and petty that really turned of the epic/heroic potential of the story.

Perhaps I haven't read enough modern fantasy, and this type of cutesy fantasy has become popular. Give me heroes that are tough, brave, and don't gripe and fret about every little thing. Give me heroes that focus on the grand scale, not on the little details that we have in our own world. If I want to read about that, I'll go to a different isle in the books store!

--Return tomorrow for my blog on characterization and dialogue in epic fantasy, and an short analysis of these two in regards to DragonLight.

And do check out these other bloggers writing about DragonLight, often what one person dislikes, another loves. We all have different tastes.

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
* Beth Goddard
Mark Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Terri Main
* Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
* Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Deena Peterson
Steve Rice
* Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
* Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams


CherryBlossomMJ said...

I haven't read book 5 yet, but I have really enjoyed 1, 2, and 3 so far. I've noticed from book to book that they have really built upon each other, so I'd say that this is a series that you need that background on. Perhaps if you had known the characters from the beginning your feelings would be different. Either way, thanks for giving it a fair chance! As you said, what some people loathe, others love!

Feel free to see my reviews and other things this week at Creative Madness cherryblossommj dot blogspot dot com

Terri said...

I think this is a book much more suited to the young, young adult market, particularly teenage girls who would love to have the ability to create a new dress for every occassion by magic.

I use the distinction of Disney and Spielberg. This is Disney. It's light, it's fun, but don't expect depth of character or complexity of plot.

I do wonder when dragons became cuddly.

I think I'll address that issue tommorrow.

Valerie Comer said...

Oh-oh. Kale's personality was great in books one through three, for the most part. I felt it was the biggest draw-back to book four, though. And book five is still unread on my night stand, but it's at the TOP of the stack, honest. I was hoping that Kale would have grown out of that stage by now...

Brandon Barr said...

Hi Cherry Blossom,

I'm pleased that you like Paul's series. I've always been a fan of hers even though I haven't read any of her books. She's blazing trails for other authors who have Christian speculative fiction tales.

I agree. In fact, I think the books is definitely written for women. I'll be sure to check out your post.

Don't let my review stop you from finishing the series! I hate being unable to finish a series.

Fantasythyme said...

Brandon, Thanks for the review. The series builds upon the prior books, so there is a lot of character developement. I didn't see the series as cutesy so much as a completely new world with completely new character races were created.

I agree it is aimed to a younger audience, but catching a reader early enough may coax them into staying with the genre as they mature.

nissa-amas-katoj said...

It's a girl thing..... DragonLight is far more similar to various fantasy novels written by women (Mercedes Lackey, for one) than the Conan type of 'epic' fantasy. Which I wouldn't touch with a ten foot Serbian.... Different people do prefer different types of fantasy, though.

I found DragonLight to be the kind of fantasy that I happen to like--- and since I'm 49, there is hope that other non-teenagers will enjoy it.

Cheryl said...

For me, reading the series was just plain fun. IMHO, these books work best if you read the series; I don't think they work very well as stand alone books.

Great reading everyone's opinions. :-)
I'm posting brief *interviews* with some of the characters during the tour if anyone wants to check them out.

Figments of Imagination

Robert Treskillard said...

I say a lot of similar things on the post I just put out, so I'm with you man!

But understanding the market in CBA fantasy, there is definitely room there for this type of series.

Brandon Barr said...

Hi Fantasythyme,
you make good points. I definitely hope the book draws in more young readers. Thanks for stopping by.

Hello Nissa,
I think DragonLight and Conan are good opposites. One is written for women, the other for men.

Hi Cheryl,
Terri Main had the same "fun" opinion of the book in her blog. She felt the story was a simple fun, read.

I'm glad you stopped by. I was beginning to feel very alone in my reading experience of DragonLight. But as we can garner from the above responses, being male puts us at a bit of a disadvantage.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Brandon, I think you're quite right in your assessment. I don't think Donita was trying to write epic fantasy, so if that was what a reader wanted, this series would not be particularly appealing.

I love epic fantasy. But I liked this series and would definitely pick up another if there was one to be had. It's a different experience. I don't expect to find the nailbiting tension I'd experience in an epic fantasy. I used the term light fantasy in my Spec Faith post. Not fantasy-lite, mind you. But light and fun.

As to Kale, she started whining in book 4. I thought she matured by the end of this one though.


Brandon Barr said...

Hi Rebecca,
This was my first time reading such light fantasy. Some of the Lord of the Rings is lighter (the shire and the hobbits themselves), but this felt much different. I'm glad everyone else has enjoyed it though!